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Skilling Uganda started on a wrong footing- Education ministry

Pius Chemonges Achen, a student of Carpentry and Joinery

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports has acknowledged that the Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) Strategic Plan 2011 – 2020 also known as Skilling Uganda was started on a wrong footing.

The program, launched in 2012, was expected to usher in a paradigm shift for skills development in Uganda and enhance productivity and growth with the main purpose of creating employable skills and competencies relevant in the labor market.   

Championed by President Yoweri Museveni, Skilling Uganda has been offering short courses for senior four leavers, school drop-outs, and graduates, who are awarded practical qualifications equivalent to those in the formal system of education.  But as the timeline for the strategy draws to a close, policy analysts say that there was a rush to impart skills for identifying challenges for the skills training segment.   

Hajat Safina Musene, the Commissioner Business, Technical, Vocation Education, and Training-BTVET notes that the ministry came up with a strategy and BTVET act before putting in place a  guiding policy for the implementation of the program. 

Alex Kakooza, the Education Ministry Permanent Secretary, also attests that the approach was dead on arrival likening it to putting the cart before the horse, expecting the horse to pull the cart. Kakooza shares that they wanted to amend the laws, midway through the program, but this also hit a snag.

Brighton Barugahare, the Assistant Commissioner Education and Policy Analysis Department, also concedes that the current legal framework is favoring the implementation of the program and the framers ought to have informed themselves on the public policy before rolling out the strategy which was not done.     

Although the education ministry is yet to complete the evaluation of the strategy in question, gaps have already been identified and it seems a reverse gear has been injected with the introduction of the Technical, Vocation Education and Training- TVET policy.   

With the new TVET policy, the ministry authorities will breathe the air into the concept of skilling Uganda by bridging the existing gaps and harmonize issues of overlapping mandates. However, they as well insist that despite the mistakes done by the program framers, it has made some remarkable contributions to which they can rebuild after addressing the legal and policy issues.

Available documents indicate that the skills training has been provided for in the budgets and financed by the Skills Development Project, the Higher Education, Science, and Technology Project (HEST), and the Global Partnership in Education program, with loans from the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the Global Partnership Fund, respectively.

However, while analyzing the programs in a 2019 publication, Mary Sserumaga, Ugandan essayist, found out that three years later, the programs had failed to absolve the loans. For instance, the 368.7 billion Shillings Skills Development Project (SDP) had been able to utilize only 20 per cent of the loan which expired in August 2020. 

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